MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Most of the food in your refrigerator has a date on it. But many times the labels use different language and it’s not always clear what they mean.
Now the government is hoping a change to the date can cut down on food waste.
“Here’s a date with no label,” said Sasha Stashwitck.
Stashwitck is with the National Resource Defense Council. She says nine out of ten shoppers are confused by the different dates.
“The average family is actually throwing away about $1,500 a year in food that is perfectly good to eat,” said Stashwick.
To clear up confusion, the U.S. Department of Agriculture now wants just one label: “Best If Used By.”
It’s asking egg, meat and dairy manufacturers to use it.
The Grocery Manufacturers Association would not say if they plan to adopt the label, but did say “the food and consumer products industry is committed to providing consumers with the information they need to make informed decisions regarding the safety and quality of the products they purchase and consume.”
Stashwick says current labels and the new “best if used by” stamp are not an expiration date.
“Typically, those dates are a manufacturer’s best guess on when food will be at its peak quality. They are really not an indicator about the safety of the food,” Stashwick explained.
The NRDC says many foods, if stored properly, can last longer.
Milk is good at least a week past the printed date, while eggs can still be good three to five weeks after you buy them.
Shopper Debbie Telson uses her own senses to tell if something’s gone bad.
“By smell, and guess what, you look inside and if it’s moldy, it’s gone bad,” she said.
The USDA did not say when the new labels might be in use.
Congress is currently working on legislation that would mandate a universal label for all foods.